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NBA Playoffs 2011: 5 Reasons the Memphis Grizzlies Are Playing Great Basketball

Jim MancariCorrespondent IMay 10, 2011

NBA Playoffs 2011: 5 Reasons the Memphis Grizzlies Are Playing Great Basketball

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    OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - MAY 01:  Forward Zach Randolph #50 of the Memphis Grizzlies reacts against the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game One of the Western Conference Semifinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs on May 1, 2011 at Oklahoma City Arena in Oklahoma City, Okla
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Despite the triple overtime loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder last night, the Memphis Grizzlies are on top of the world right now.

    The Grizzlies are two wins away from reaching their first ever Western Conference Finals.

    Memphis is a perfect example of a team that got hot at the right time and is looking to ride its momentum throughout the playoffs.

    Here are five reasons why the Grizzlies are playing great basketball right now.

5. Just Enough Contributions from the Bench

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    OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - MAY 01:  Forward Shane Battier #31 of the Memphis Grizzlies reacts during a 114-101 win against the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game One of the Western Conference Semifinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs on May 1, 2011 at Oklahoma City Arena i
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    The Memphis Grizzlies have gotten just enough contributions off their bench in the playoffs to get by.

    Shane Battier is the only veteran on this bench that includes several young, talented players.

    O.J. Mayo and Darrell Arthur have averaged 11.2 and 7.0 points, respectively, off the bench, which has given Memphis a jolt of energy when they needed it.

    Though other teams may have deeper benches, the Grizzlies reserves have done their job in keeping the team in the game as the starters rest.

4. Production from Big Men

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    MEMPHIS, TN - MAY 09:  Marc Gasol #33 of the Memphis Grizzlies celebrates during the game against the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game Four of the Western Conference Semifinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs at FedExForum on May 9, 2011 in Memphis, Tennessee. NOTE
    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol have teamed up well to form a two-headed big man tandem.

    Randolph just signed a four-year contract extension after being scheduled to be a free agent this offseason, while Gasol is a restricted free agent and may receive offers that the Grizzlies can’t match.

    However, Memphis will rely on these two players if they are to make some noise in the Western Conference Finals.

    Both players have averaged double-doubles through 10 postseason games.

    Randolph is averaging 23.3 points and 11.1 rebounds per game, while Gasol checks in at 16.0 points and 12.5 rebounds per game.

    Look for these two to keep up their elevated pace of play for the remainder of this series.

3. Picking Each Other Up

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    MEMPHIS, TN - MAY 07:  Mike Conley #11 of the  Memphis Grizzlies shoots the ball during the game against the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game Three of the Western Conference Semifinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs at FedExForum on May 7, 2011 in Memphis, Tenness
    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    The great thing about basketball is that it is a team sport.

    On a night where the star players are slightly off, it gives the role players a chance to step up.

    For Memphis, Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol have not been the only productive players.

    Point guard Mike Conley has put together a few solid games, while youngster Sam Young has hit some clutch baskets down the stretch in games.

    Though Tony Allen may not be a 20-point per game player, he certainly makes up for it defensively by shutting down the other team’s primary scorer.

    This team chemistry has gotten the Grizzlies to where they are today.

2. No Rudy Gay

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    PHOENIX - DECEMBER 08:  Rudy Gay #22 of the Memphis Grizzlies during the NBA game against the Phoenix Suns  at US Airways Center on December 8, 2010 in Phoenix, Arizona. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or usin
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    When healthy, Rudy Gay is one of the top small forwards in the league.

    However, in late March, Gay suffered a left shoulder injury and opted to have season ending surgery.

    While the Grizzlies are certainly a much better team with Gay on the floor, his absence has allowed the other players to realize that they need to make up for his production.

    Gay averaged 19.8 points per game in 54 starts this season.

    Due to the timing of this injury, the Grizzlies were able to discover themselves at the right time and gain the momentum they needed late in the season to go on the run they have been enjoying.

1. Confidence at the Right Time

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    OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - MAY 01:  Forward Zach Randolph #50  and Marc Gasol #33 of the Memphis Grizzlies celebrate a 114-101 win against the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game One of the Western Conference Semifinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs on May 1, 2011 at Oklah
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    If a team thinks it can defeat anybody, that’s half the battle in actually doing it.

    The Grizzlies entered the playoffs as the No. 8 seed, and were matched up with the No. 1 seeded San Antonio Spurs.

    The Grizzlies could have easily looked at this matchup and folded in the presence of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili.

    However, the Grizzlies grounded out a six-game series victory.

    This confidence could be the defining factor in what gets the Grizzlies past the Thunder and arranges a date with the Dallas Mavericks in the Western Conference Finals.

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